Black Diamond Carbon 3-piece Whippet — Review

Post by blogger | June 6, 2013      

Ascending a steep spine near Haines, AK.

As backcountry splitboarders, why would we need a Black Diamond Whippet? Presumably we are not riding down a line with two Whippet poles in hand ready to self-arrest like our skier friends. If specific terrain and conditions exist, that’s what ice axes are for. As snowboarders, we are usually blessed with free hands on the descent to hold an ax if necessary, but equally cursed with having to load more on our backpacks.

Black Diamond’s Carbon Whippet is an advantageous tool for the splitboarder traveling in steeper or glaciated terrain. Previous 2-section models of the Whippet were somewhat impractical for the ride down unless you wanted to A) have a Boba Fett style antenna emerging into the atmosphere from your backpack, or B) carry sticks down in your hands. (Please feel free to Google image search Boba Fett if you need a Star Wars character refresher). The Black Diamond Carbon Whippet comes in a 3-section design that collapses short, which is ideal for keeping a low profile pack on the ride down, thus answering the need for splitboard mountaineers.

An example of when a Whippet is not necessarily needed while ascending in soft snow conditions -- but could still come in handy -- and if it's the Carbon 3-section model could easily be stowed on your pack.

Again, since we snowboarders can handle an ice ax on the downhill, for us the Whippet is primarily an uphill tool. For example, on Mt. Rainier when the terrain is mellow (and the snow soft) enough to continue skinning, yet dangerously exposed above a man-eating crevasse, having the ability to self-arrest is crucial. Sometimes in these situations it is wise to strap an ice ax to one ski pole, but there are many hours of travel when the terrain is moderate and a couple of Whippets in hand are all you need. The idea is that you should never be on a glacier without something in your hands to stop yourself from sliding into a hole — however moderate the terrain!

For those of you with experience using older Whippets, the carbon 3-section Whippet pole has a few new features that will now be seen across BD’s pole collection. First, the 3-section design is fully extendable to 140cm and collapses down to 68cm (versus the collapsed length of 100cm of the original 2-section version).

This shows the collapsed length of both the two section and three section whippets. You can imagine the height of the two-section Whippet off the backpack on the ride down.

An additional feature is the new flick-lock mechanism that BD is featuring on all of their new poles. This dual-axle component provides a much more secure clamp (and release) on the pole when extending it. I have noticed a great improvement of the functionality in the field.

BD’s new Flick-lock mechanism features a dual-axle, which provides a tighter and more secure clamp.

Another advantage of the 3-section Carbon Whippet as a tool is in relation to the other items you bring with you and its potential for weight saving. On an ascent where two ice axes (non-technical) are preferred, the Whippet can serve as a substitute for one of them, thus only requiring you to put one ski-pole on the pack in place of the ice ax. Similarly, for the ride down (assuming no need for an ax) your pack will only be loaded with one ax, one pole, and one Whippet pole. This is obviously situation dependent, but something I find quite useful.

The BD 3-section Whippet and an older model BD 3-section pole stowed on the pack. The Whippet sits a bit higher off the top of the pack because it is secured in the ice-ax sleeve.

Overall, the Whippet is a relatively specialized tool, but it is a tool I have been very glad to have when conditions dictated. The new carbon 3-section model will make this excellent product even better for those of us who need to stow them on our packs (or for that matter, anyone who wants their poles to be easily packable).

Each 3 section pole will weigh 17 ounces, as compared to the weight of the two section carbon whippet weighing 16 ounces. All sections of the Carbon Whippet will be carbon fiber.

Shop for BD Whippet here.



27 Responses to “Black Diamond Carbon 3-piece Whippet — Review”

  1. Harpo June 6th, 2013 10:30 am

    I bought a two section lower for another bd pole that works with my older whippet to make it three section.

    Are all three sections of the cf whippet cf? How much does it weigh?

  2. Lou Dawson June 6th, 2013 11:23 am

    WildSnow fail on the weight stat! Coop and Louie, can we get that in there pronto!

  3. Coop June 6th, 2013 12:02 pm

    Each 3 section pole will weigh 17 ounces, as compared to the weight of the two section carbon whippet weighing 16 ounces.

    All sections of the whippet will be carbon fiber.

  4. Jason4 June 6th, 2013 2:37 pm

    I also converted my 2-piece aluminum Whippet to a 3-piece Whippet with the lower 2 pieces from one of the other pairs of poles that I already owned. That’s what I’ve been touring on all winter and have found that the whippet is great for splitboarding for popping up climbing wires and pulling myself over downed trees while climbing. I also use it for figting off agressive skiers who try to steal my lines because their “transitions are faster” and for shotgunning beers in the parking lot to celebrate laps on Table mountain.

  5. Louie June 6th, 2013 3:20 pm

    Haha, sounds like split boarders have found a few of the uses for the venerable whippet!

  6. Lou Dawson June 6th, 2013 4:12 pm

    I added the weight info into the post, thanks Coop.

  7. John J June 10th, 2013 8:24 am

    Hearsay on the weekend said that the aluminum two-section whippet would be discontinued and replaced with this carbon 3-piece unit. I find that hard to believe. Anyone have some info?

  8. Lou Dawson June 10th, 2013 10:13 am

    John, and inaccurate hearsay it IS!

    I asked BD, this is what they said:

    “Not true…

    Both the Carbon Whippet (3 section carbon-$139) and Whippet (2 section aluminum-$99) will be new for F2013. The new whippet gets an updated handle, stainless steel pick and the strap attachment features a new orientation. “

  9. John J June 10th, 2013 11:55 am

    Good to hear, Lou. Thanks for checking

  10. Jim L June 10th, 2013 12:05 pm

    Anyone know why BD doesn’t make the pick of the Whippet removable?

  11. Charlie June 10th, 2013 12:43 pm

    They used to make them with removable picks. Googling for ‘whippet removable pick’ will deliver the goods. I’ve never felt the need to remove the pick from my whippet. If I don’t want the pick, I just bring my cheaper/lighter ski poles. Friends that worry about getting disemboweled by the pick use the BD pick cover when not in sketchy terrain.

  12. John J June 10th, 2013 12:50 pm

    I don’t know, but my product liability sense says that BD stopped making removable picks to severely reduce the chance that it would fail during normal use. To depend on all users to properly fasten it every time, when normal use includes protection in life-threatening situations, seems risky to me.

  13. Lou Dawson June 10th, 2013 4:27 pm

    John, I heard that was at least part of the reason. Personally I _loved_ the removable Whippets, still have a bunch of them kicking around here.

  14. John J June 10th, 2013 6:01 pm

    Lou, if you _love_ them, then I guess that means you trust them to work when you need them?

    I never had one of them, but I would like to. I guess I will take Charlie’s advice and start googling.

  15. Lou Dawson June 10th, 2013 9:02 pm

    John, not sure what you mean but I’d offer that Whippets don’t work as well as an ice ax for self arrest, they are a last resort. Also, if you’re actually moving downhill on skis on anything steep, you already have more momentum than you can usually absorb with an attempt at self arrest with any tool. A lot of this is pure fantasy, just like the myth that avalanche beacons are a great life saving device.

  16. John J June 10th, 2013 9:18 pm

    I’ll take that as a “no” Just noticed that you said loved- past tense.

    Funny, googling brought up Steve Romeo’s piece about modifying a first-gen whippet by permanently fastening the pick…

  17. Billy Grimes June 11th, 2013 9:54 pm

    I like Lou am bummed about not having the pick removable anymore, I feel that was crucial for skiing. I was able to adapt my 2 piece whippet upper to work with my BD 2 piece thin (red/black) poles with carbon lowers using a cut lower and two flicklocks so I can just carry my whippet upper and an axe in addition to poles. The upper alone works fine for a second piece of gear while climbing steeps holding the grip or as a rudimentary second axe or I can switch out the uppers depending on ascent/descent situations to make a full pole. I don’t like skiing with it unless I feel it is needed and that pick cover will only help so much in impaling type situations. The connection is not perfect but works. BD should take my jury rig method to make a whippet/axe upper that marries to their standard lowers if they won’t bring the removable pick back.

  18. stephen June 11th, 2013 11:57 pm

    I’m still not sure the weights are correct. That for the three piece carbon pole might be right but AFAIK there has never been a two piece carbon whippet, and the info on BD’s site is ambiguous.

  19. SB June 12th, 2013 11:14 am

    A new strap configuration is needed. The old one isn’t very freindly.

  20. water June 18th, 2013 2:09 pm

    Doing a lot of volcano stuff lately I’d like a whippet but am holding off for this new one. I don’t always give a hoot about the ‘latest and greatest’ but I’ve become a total convert to carbon poles for the sake of the heat-transfer (…heat stealing) of alu poles when holding them anywhere except for the handle. Noticed a real difference and can’t go back.

  21. water December 31st, 2013 1:53 am

    May want to edit/update this review/preview.
    The 2013-14 black diamond carbon whippet is NOT three carbon sections. It is an aluminum upper and two carbon lower sections. My Xmas gift to myself was one and for the reason left in my June comment above im a bit disappointed about it. Though I only paid $111 for the carbon version, it’s heavier than the two piece and I’m not sure I’ll ever need to collapse it to my pack… Meh.

  22. Lou Dawson December 31st, 2013 6:30 am

    Water, thanks, I’ll look into that. Lou

  23. water February 3rd, 2015 6:22 pm

    know this is old but carbon whippet discussion on cascadeclimbers.. may want to nix the last sentence of this review that says all sections will be carbon. wasn’t true then or now.

  24. Bruno May 14th, 2016 6:27 pm

    Skiing a couple days ago with a friend, and we booted up a fairly steep couloir. I had my old BD detachable whippets, and she had one fixed whippet. On the descent she drug the hand holding the whippet pole in wind crust and dislocated her shoulder. Plus one for detachable whippets.

    I generally use my whippets for the ascent only, and they are very good for this. I can think of maybe 5 runs where I felt the need to leave the whippets attached for the down.

  25. Lou Dawson 2 May 15th, 2016 5:54 am

    I like the detachable Whippets the best, for that exact reason, but you can always just ski the fixed ones without the wrist strap, then if you fall it’s less likely to cause injury. I’m also not a big fan of skiing with just one Whippet. Frankly, I don’t understand the reasoning, two work much better for climbing, and you need two to effect any sort of self arrest in a fall, as they’re not an ice axe. Overall, they’re a specialized tool for sure. I’m a huge fan and know of lives saved, but I’d never advocate for everyone, all the time. Lou

  26. Kristian May 15th, 2016 6:28 am

    Funny whippet story from about 2004: Was jump turning down fairly steep narrow Leia Skywalker Couloir at its top. With one adjustable BD pole and one adjustable Whippet BD pole. On about the 5th turn, the downhill pole collapsed and I went headlong downhill – I had not adjusted the original style clamp screw to be tight enough…

    Sure enough, I landed on the side holding the Whippet and it was uselessly pinned on its side. The slide almost instantly became a rag doll tumble and everything was a blur. I kept chanting self arrest out loud and somehow did so after about 20 meters with the same Whippet.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 May 15th, 2016 9:15 am

    They need to make some nice non adjustable poles with removable Whippets… interesting that never happened…

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